Americans largely think free trade has been good for the United States, and Democrats are just as supportive as Republicans
The Democratic Party is being rocked by an internal fight over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade deal that is in the works between the US and other Asia-Pacific countries. The Obama administration and many centrist Democrats who support the deal are up against Senator Elizabeth Warren, labor unions and other liberal groups who oppose the deal and the secrecy surrounding the negotiations. President Obama is pushing for 'fast track' adoption of the deal by Congress, which would ban amendments to the deal negotiated or filibusters. Republicans, such as 2016 hopeful Carly Fiorina, have also slammed the president for withholding details of the free trade deal.
The latest research from YouGov shows that just under half of the American public (46%) think that free trade has, overall, been good for the United States. 30% of Americans think that free trade has been bad for the United States. Significantly, there is little difference between the percentage of Democrats (49%) and Republicans (50%) who think that free trade has been good for the country, though independents are more divided, with 40% saying free trade has been good and 32% saying it has been bad for the country.
There are, however, significant differences according to age. Americans under the age of 45 are somewhat more likely to say that free trade has been good for America and are noticeably less likely to say that free trade has been bad for America. Only 18% of under-30s say that free trade has been bad for the country, compared to 40% of over-65s. Asked whether free trade has been bad for them personally, people aged 45 to 64 (28%) are the most likely to say that it has negatively affected them.
Asked specifically about the various trade deals the public is closely divided though many aren't sure. 30% say that NAFTA, a free trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico was good for the country while 30% say it was bad. 29% of Americans say that the proposed TPP would be good while 29% say it would be bad, and 29% think the US-EU 'TTIP' deal would be good while 24% think it would be bad. In each case more than 40% of the public aren't sure either way.
Thinking about whether it is more important to protect industrial jobs or keep prices low, two-thirds of Americans (66%) say it is more important to protect industrial jobs, while only 17% say it is better to keep prices low even if some people lose their jobs. People whose household incomes are between $40,000 and $80,000 are the most likely to say that it is more important to keep industrial jobs in the U.S. (73%) than it is to make sure prices in stores are low (13%). The poorest Americans, with household incomes under $40,000, are the most likely to say that keeping prices low is more important (21%) though 60% do still say that preserving industrial employment should be a priority.